As I wait for the train at Queensboro Plaza I see a young woman on the platform trying to make herself heard over the noise. I can’t make out what she’s saying, but it’s clear that she’s asking a question and everybody is ignoring her.
I notice that she’s holding a few brightly colored cords in one hand that seem to match the colors of the subway insignias (green for the 456, yellow for the NQR, red for the 123, etc.), and assuming she’s asking something MTA-related, I walk up to her.
It’s been a strange summer in New York; cool temperatures and constant rain have made it feel more like fall. Not being a big fan of heat in the 90s I haven’t really minded, except that the rain is making my suede shoes look awful, and it makes the soles slippery. So slippery that I recently slid and fell as I ran in to the rush hour 7 train, right at the entrance as the doors were closing. A passenger helped me up, and I was terribly embarrassed to see all eyes on the crowded car turn to me.
I was trying to muster up a bit of dignity when a woman sitting across from me spoke up. “That was a pretty bad fall!” I smiled and said I was okay – which, except for my embarrassment, I was. “You took a pretty serious tumble! Your knee’s all messed up!” I looked down, thinking that my jeans might have gotten dirty, but didn’t see anything. “I bet it’s hurting now,” she continued. “I saw how you fell and it looked bad!” I smiled again and said I was alright. “Why don’t you take my seat?” I looked around and saw that everyone was still looking at me. “No, really, I’m fine,” I answered, smiling still.
I’m running late to work, as always, and I’m dodging sleepwalkers all the way down the passage from the 7 train to the V/F train. I run down the stairs, see the F and jump in. My triumph and heavy breathing turn to embarrassment when I notice that the train is not moving. I make my way to the other side, get settled in and pull out my book to read, then realize that I’m standing next to a full raving lunatic. He’s a short guy in his late 30s with an unkempt beard and coke-bottle glasses, and he’s in the middle of a breathless rant: “Look at you white people, all afraid, I will cut your fucking heads off and laugh. The police will come and arrest me and I’ll fucking kill them too,” etc. etc. The train is still not moving when a woman rushes in much the same way I had before her. She looks at the guy and asks “Is this the V or the F”? Without interrupting the rhythm of his harangue he says “It’s the F” and continues to tell us who he is going to murder and how.